Castlevania: Netflix does right by fans

This Netflix original adaptation of the beloved Castlevania game series just might be the beginning of the end of bad video game adaptations. A young woman named Lisa seeks to become a doctor for her village in an age ruled by the fear of dark creatures. Having made her way to the traveling castle of Vlad Dracula Tepes, she convinces him to let her study the sciences so she can bring real aid to her people. As time goes by, the two fall in love and marry. Years pass by until Lisa Tepes is found by the church and burnt at the stake for witchcraft. Dracula is enraged at his wife’s murder and once his one-year mercy period passes, unleashes his dark forces upon the city of Targoviste and all of Wallachia. The story follows Trevor Belmont as he finds his role in a world that blames him and the Belmont family for the darkness in the world.
Castlevania does an incredible job adapting what was essentially less than a page of backstory in the Castlevania 3 game manual. Fans of the series will notice that the first episode also borrows elements of Dracula’s story from Symphony of the Night, a fan favorite on the PlayStation. If I had to describe the series animation in two words, they would be awesome and disturbing. The animation can fall all over that spectrum as it often changes most frequently depending on what the goal of the scene is. Two examples are when you watch Dracula slowly transform into a being of fire as his rage builds at the death of his wife, and the archbishop’s speech in Targoviste. The first is incredible to watch. Vlad describes the promise that he made with Lisa to live like a man if he were to be loved as one. As his rage builds, he breaks that promise and you witness Dracula physically burning away the promise he made to Lisa, becoming engulfed in fire and teleporting away.
The archbishop is in a different camp. The show, to put it bluntly, makes evil disturbing. Before the archbishop even speaks the viewer gets to witness all his fat and saggy skin on his face, and you hear a throaty noise from as he inyhales before addressing the people. Multiple times he is depicted as having his eyes not match up during his rant. It’s just sort of off-putting and at times it just feels wrong. The closest thing I can compare it to is Attack on Titan when there is something gruesome happening. Speaking of which, Castlevania doesn’t stray away from gore and there is quite a bit in the first episode. The frequency of gore is less after the first episode, but it isn’t used mindlessly. It is used to set the tone so the viewer knows what’s at stake, and from then on, its toned down and no longer the focus.
I have zero complaints about the personality the show runners gave Trevor Belmont. Considering the Castlevania 3 was on the original Gameboy and Trevor was a group of pixels, I would say they did a good job of portraying the sort of character that has not only been shunned by the world but in retaliation is also shunning it right back even though he struggles doing so.
The Netflix original is a great example of what happens when video game shows are done right. The creators went into this project knowing the reputation of past game adaptations and, in their words, “dutifully made sure it didn’t suck.” With only four episodes at 23 minutes long, my only major complaint was that it was too short. Luckily, Castlevania will be getting a second season for eight episodes of the same length. I am very excited to see how the series continues to play out, and I highly recommend watching it as long as you aren’t squeamish. While I didn’t hear any adaptations of the original game’s soundtrack, I’m OK with its absence. Here’s to hoping that we see more of this studio’s work and more great video game adaptations in the future!

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